A Day in the Sun

I think everyone in the mid-to-northeastern portion of this country was looking forward to the “warm” temperatures expected on Saturday. Tony and I certainly were, so we planned a day of outdoor activities. We started out with a pre-lunch walk around Traverse City, and then headed over to the coast.

Petey was thrilled with that ball of ice

When we first arrived in Empire, a light snow was falling, and the skies were dull. But, it was in the 20’s (I think we got all the way up to 23F!), so I wasn’t complaining. I left Petey with Tony for a bit and struck off to areas best not to take him.

That tiny speck in the left photo is me. The right image features a pretty melt puddle

After about twenty minutes, we regrouped. And then the sun unexpectedly popped out. It was magical. I hopped back to a couple of my favorite views, and remade the images to stitch into panoramas.

Some pancake ice in front of Empire Bluffs
Empire Ice-2

A super cool iceberg, more pancake ice, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes
Empire Ice

The afternoon was wearing on, but the clouds continued to allow interludes of sunshine, so we decided to drive south of Empire for a bluff hike.

Empire Bluffs Trail-2

The trail is a local favorite, so despite having snow up to our hips, the path is well-worn and quite walkable without snowshoes. We passed several folks along the way – all smiling their appreciation for the gift of the moment. I looked up at one point at a couple of young kids trekking in our direction. I considered taking their photo, but didn’t. I immediately regretted the decision, when I heard one of the boys say our names to his friend. Completely by chance, we had run into our good friends out in the middle of nowhere, and their five-year-old recognized us before we did him!

Jim, Lisa, Jess. Little ones not pictured; they had better things to do 😉
chance friend meeting

After catching up for a few moments, Tony, Petey and I continued to the overlook. I have dozens of photos of this view, and I make more images with each visit. It’s a familiar view, yet it’s always surprising in its beauty and always different, if only subtly.

Empire Bluffs Overview

As we rounded the last curve, laughing at the guard fence buried in snow, the clouds again broke. Dramatic rays of sun spilled onto Lake Michigan, and I stood agape.

Eventually, I managed to contain my enthusiasm, and we began the journey back to the car. Like the view at the overlook, though we had just passed through, the woods was different – and so was I. After a confining bout of brutally cold weather, it’s impressive just how rejuvenating a few hours outside in the sun can be.
Empire Bluffs Trail

Adventure and Routine – A Restorative Weekend

I meant to write this last night, but since I was feeling so mellow from the weekend, it didn’t happen. We didn’t have the kind of weekend where you stay in and bury yourselves in books, but we also didn’t have the kind of weekend where you explore 15 new places. Instead, we did a little exploring, a little winter routine, and none of it on a schedule. By the time Sunday evening arrived, I was feeling refreshed and ready for Monday (or “today” if you’re on this side of the world).

Saturday afternoon we roused ourselves for a hike. We settled on Pyramid Point, because it has a nice view, and we hadn’t been since July. The road situation is a bit different in the area this time of year. Last time I drove my sister’s little front-wheel drive car down a two-track with no problem (well, except that we had to take said two-track because I briefly got us lost). The other day, I could only spot the road because the top foot or so of the road-marker pokes out of piled and drifted snow.

We parked at the bottom of the road the trail is on, and hiked up to the trailhead…to begin our hike. I knelt in the snow for a close-up of some dried Queen Anne’s Lace, convinced it was the only decent shot I’d get for the day thanks to dense cloud cover and intermittent swirling snow.

After the short climb, we reached the Lake Michigan overlook, and though the view isn’t what I’ve come to expect, it was spectacular in its way.

Guess which one was from July – even though it was 57 and raining that day 😦


Fine snow poured through our duration at the top (admittedly brief) so that we never did glimpse the horizon. What you can see in the left image is a break in the ice, which now coats nearly 50% of the lake’s surface.

Back in the warm confines of our car, I noted that sunset is now happening at nearly 6:00, and that we had time for some beach exploration if Tony and Petey were game. They were.

Considering the impending sunset, we knew our time on the ice would be short. Since it’s such a novel world though, every find is unique and exciting, making even a quick trip worth the effort. With the shore in this condition, I feel like I’m visiting a polar region. Icebergs sit perched and cracked on top of yet more ice, some of which you can see Lake Michigan’s teal through, and some of which expands out in little white pancakes toward the horizon.


Ice caves yawn at the west toward previously incoming waves, their savage maws nonetheless inviting you in. I answer their call. Eventually, the sky darkens enough that we call it a night before someone breaks an ankle (again).

Yesterday (I’m sure because we had gone adventuring on a cloudy day) dawned bright and blue, so we geared up for a morning of skiing. Though fiercely cold, the groomed trails were a blast, and I hope it stays just a touch warmer so we can get out more often. After a late lunch at the best brew-pub in existence, we returned home for a little snow shoveling followed by an afternoon walk. Most of our route was beautiful and sedate, with the exception of the biting winds when we faced west.

Oh yes, we also saw a veritable herd of turkeys…nearly four dozen!


And though only a few crepuscular rays shone through in the west as the sun set, the east held a lovely pink tinge, a gentle ending for a gentle weekend.

Surprise Morels and a View

We made plans to hike the Empire Bluffs trail with our friends yesterday. We most recently walked the path back in super-snowy February, but Jim and Jess (and Jackson too) hadn’t been since the fall, and yesterday’s temperate weather seemed perfect for the short trek. Continue reading

Hearty, Hardy Folks

Dear Regular Readers, I apologize for my absence. I’ve discussed our tendency to run a pseudo-bed-n-breakfast in the summer, but things are generally calmer outside of the warm season. With our random gallivanting, we don’t have trouble keeping ourselves busy, but it can get lonely up here in the tundra. Lately, though, we’ve had trouble keeping ourselves still, which means I’ve not had the right combination of time and motivation to fill you in on my northern Michigan shenanigans. Continue reading